Thursday, May 23, 2024

FINAL: Maryland 67, MSU 62: Terrapins snap Spartans winning streak

February 3, 2022
<p>Senior guard Nia Clouden (24) dribbles against a Maryland player. MSU lost to Maryland at the Breslin Center 67-62 on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022.</p>

Senior guard Nia Clouden (24) dribbles against a Maryland player. MSU lost to Maryland at the Breslin Center 67-62 on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022.

Michigan State women’s basketball lost a hard-fought battle against the No. 17 Maryland Terrapins, 67-62. This loss will snap the Spartans’ four-game winning streak and is a missed opportunity for the Spartans to improve their NCAA Tournament resume.

Graduate student forward Alisia Smith started the game with a huge defensive stop and then quickly switched gears to the other side of the court, getting MSU’s first four points of the game. Despite the loss, she had quite the game — finishing with 18 points, two points away from her season-high of 20.

She and freshman forward Matilda Ekh provided most of the scoring for the Spartans in the first half while the Terrapins’ defense shut down senior guard Nia Clouden. Ekh’s knack for big plays was on full display when she outworked the Terrapins under the basket for a rebound, passed it off the Clouden, who pushed it down the court, moved it back around to Ekh, who hit a three-pointer, got fouled and completed the four-point play.

The Spartans struggled to box out the Terrapins, who clearly had the height advantage, so they had to play bigger at times, having post players Smith, graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar and junior forward Taiyier Parks on the court at the same time.

Maryland was also easily able to lure MSU into fouls to get itself to the line and get five free points in the first half.

Maryland’s junior guard Ashley Owusu, an ESPN top 10 player, slipped under the basket and took a hard fall in the first half, forcing her to exit the game. Although it was a huge loss for the Terrapins, it didn’t seem to slow them down much. In fact, it seemed to inspire her team to play harder.

The second quarter was filled with chaotic and intense basketball. Both teams gave it their all, diving for every loose ball and fighting for every rebound. Farquhar had an excellent save, diving out of bounds while passing off to Clouden, who was able to get the ball up the floor. It was plays like these that allowed the Spartans to go into the locker room at halftime, only down by seven points against the No. 17 team in the country.

Mirroring the beginning of the game, Smith scored the first points of the second half, giving the Spartans some much-needed momentum. They started the second half performing much better offensively but still struggled to defend against the Terrapins, who out-rebounded the Spartans, leading to some second-chance points that helped Maryland keep its lead.

Although the Maryland defense shut her down in the first half, Clouden came alive in the second, hitting five three-pointers in the third quarter, including a buzzer-beater long-range three as she was running up the court, ending the third quarter. She also had an incredible defensive hustle play, stopping a Maryland breakaway layup by swatting it out of bounds after Ekh turned the ball over.

Smith was able to cut the deficit to five in the fourth quarter when Maryland redshirt junior forward Mimi Collins tried to throw it off Smith’s leg but messed up her throw, giving her an easy layup under the basket. Clouden then continued her hot streak, hitting a three-pointer with under three minutes to play, cutting the deficit to two but the Terrapins immediately answered by getting to the line and hitting two free throws, increasing their lead back to four with just under two minutes to play.

Farquhar answered right back by forcing her way to the free-throw line going 2-2, cutting the deficit to two, but Maryland sophomore guard Angel Reese scored on the next possession pumping the lead back up to four. Reese carried for the Terrapins, finishing with 25 points.

Parks missed both free throws after getting excellent position and drawing a foul under the basket on a missed putback with four seconds left in the game. After this, the Spartans were down by four and had no choice but to foul under the clock ran out, giving Maryland the victory.

The Spartans will look to bounce back when they travel to Minnesota Sunday to take on the Golden Gophers, who they beat in a thrilling fourth-quarter victory in East Lansing earlier in the season before gearing up for their first matchup against rival Michigan next Thursday, Feb 10.

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